It's really easy for fired, dirty cops to walk into a new police job in a new town

Sean Sullivan was fired from his police job in Oregon in 2004 for sexual contact with a 10 year old girl; in 2005, Cedar Vale, KS hired him to be their police chief, where he was accused of having sexual contact with another young girl, and eventually convicted of burglary and criminal conspiracy — he's currently doing time in a Washington state prison for meth possession and identity theft.

Small town police departments routinely hire dirty cops because they don't bother doing background checks (they don't even run potential officers' fingerprints!), nor do they check applicants' references. Repeat-offender cops who've wandered from town to town, getting fired and hired, are a recurring theme in police corruption in towns like Ferguson, MO.

For example, Eddie Boyd III was fired from the St Louis cops for pistol-whipping a 12-year-old girl, falsifying a report and striking another child in the face "with his gun or handcuffs," before getting new police jobs, first in St Ann, MO, and then in Ferguson. He's currently being sued by a Ferguson woman who says he arrested her when she asked his name during a traffic stop.

Other professions track bad actors with national databases of sanctioned practitioners: health care professionals who've got into trouble are registered with the National Practitioner Data Bank, which can be easily consulted during the hiring process.

But police unions have resisted any attempt to create a comparable database of bad cops. The International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training maintains a partial list, but claim to lack the funds to create a comprehensive list that could weed out sociopaths and criminals who want a badge (the DoJ once gave the database $200K, but withdrew funding and will not comment on why).

Meanwhile, big city police departments squander money doing effective background checks that could be rationalized and improved with a bad cops database (these big cities also throw money away with unscientific polygraph tests for potential applicants).

Mr. Sullivan, who became the police chief in Cedar Vale, Kan., after being convicted on a harassment charge for kissing a 10-year-old girl, had been the second-highest-ranking officer in Coquille, Ore., before he was forced to resign in November 2004.

While prosecutors suggested that he had been "grooming" the girl for a sexual relationship, he avoided a jail sentence.

But in August 2005, not long after an Oregon judge barred Mr. Sullivan from working as a police officer, the Cedar Vale Police Department hired him. Mr. Sullivan had not told anyone about his past, local officials said. City officials involved in his hiring no longer work for Cedar Vale.

Cast-Out Police Officers Are Often Hired in Other Cities
[Timothy Williams/NYT]

(via Naked Capitalism)